PerceptiMed Will Call White Paper (5 of 10)

5   Packaging

 

Packaging is a process that includes multiple steps.  In our packaging study, we also include filing, i.e. the placing of the prescription package on the shelf (either in an alphabetic or numeric sequence in a traditional will call setting or placed randomly in an automated will call system). The exact steps vary depending upon the workflow design implemented in the pharmacy management system and whether the will call system uses a numeric or alphabetic filing system.

Typically, the pre-automation packaging workflow consists of:

  1. Scan the barcode of the prescription vial(s) into the PMS (pharmacy management system)
  2. Scan the patient paperwork barcode(s) into the PMS
  3. Enter the bag number (only if the PMS uses a numeric indexing will call management process)
  4. Place filled prescription vials and associated paperwork in either a hanging bag or paper bag.
  5. File the prescription in the will call rack or storage area (either numerically or alphabetically)

The scan steps and the order of the scans can vary depending upon workflow methodology.

 

Packaging with scripClip

The packaging steps when using scripClip in will call:

  1. Scan the patient barcode(s)
  2. Place vials and paperwork in either a (scripClip) hanging bag or paper bag/package (then attach a scripClip paper bag clip).
  3. Place the scripClip near the scripClip reader, then press scripClip’s button to register the package.
  4. Place anywhere (filing is not necessary with scripClip automation) in the will call area.

The workflow after pharmacy automation using scripClip is similar, but the barcode scans of the patient paperwork always occur first. This enables the scripClip system to establish a chain of custody for the prescription bag after it is registered in the scripClip system.  The bag and its contents are continuously monitored for bag opening or other tampering.  As a result, the custody of the contents is continuously maintained for however long the bag is in will call.  After retrieval, the bag is checked back into the system and the contents presented to the customer.  Additional bar code scans are not needed except if the legacy step is still kept in the pharmacy management system.

Table 2. Packaging and Filing Performance

Packaging  and Filing Results (median times)
Process without Automation Number of Rx’s in bag Will Call Without Automation Automation Process Will Call Using scripClip Automation
a)   Scan barcode
b)   Enter bag number in system
c)   place vial and paperwork in bag
1 14.5 sec a)   Scan barcode
b)   place vial and paperwork in bag
c)   press scripClip button
8.31 sec
2 24.0 sec 13.3 sec
3 insufficient data 14.6 sec
File prescription into will call area (numerically) n/a 11.5 sec Place package anywhere in will call ~1.02 sec

1 The automation data is from a larger analysis of 10,000 packages that included two additional independent pharmacies.  The automation data was extracted from system log files and processed.  Unless as noted, the automation data was not based on video measurements.

2 The time to place the scripClip bag on the rod/shelf could not be measured from the electronic log files.  This time was derived from viewing the store video after scripClip automation was installed.  Clerks preferred placing completed scripClip packages on the end of the shelf closest to them, producing very short ‘filing’ times.

 

The ‘Will Call Without Automation’ time of 14.5 to 24.0 seconds was much longer than the ‘Will Call Using scripClip Automation’ times even though the two procedures are very similar.

Several explanations for longer ‘before time’ include the fact some of the ‘before time’ prescriptions measured involved adding a prescription to an existing customer’s hanging bag.  This required an embedded search and retrieval for the existing bag instead of just using a new, empty bag.  The scripClip packaging methodology recommends an empty bag be used for a customer’s additional prescription instead of adding it to an existing bag. This prevents errors by maintaining the ‘chain of custody’ in monitoring the bag contents.  Based on these results, the scripClip methodology appears to also speed up the packaging step in addition to maintaining chain of custody.

Also, obtaining an empty bag occurred in the middle of the packaging process for the ‘before time.’  Reaching below the counter into a bag storage box for an empty bag added time to the ‘before’ measurement period.

 

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For a complimentary analysis of your pharmacy’s will call operations, please call PerceptiMed at 650 941 7000 ext. 1.  An experienced pharmacy operations consultant can provide advice on improving your workflow and calculate your expected ROI when implementing will call automation in your pharmacy.